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Ledged and boarded oak doors, nailed.

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MikeG.

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About five years into this house renovation project, and it finally comes time to have some internal doors. OK, we've got a loo door downstairs, but that's it. The first part of any woodworking job (once it gets to the workshop), is to allocate material. I spent quite a bit of time swapping boards around trying to make some very tight dimensions work within the encroaching sapwood, and making allowance for boards which were not properly flat:





There are three doors in this batch, and 3 boards per door. So there were lots of boards to rip straight, trimming the least possible heartwood off whilst getting rid of all the sapwood:







Note the marks on the middle board. These aren't going to be three flat boards.

I took a rebate out of all the meeting edges, because the boards are going to be half-lapped. Then using an electric planer as a scrub plane I removed quite a lot of wood from the middle board:









Then to the bench, and out with the hand planes to flatten the mess that the electric planer leaves, and to get to the final shape:



I dealt with the junction between the rebate (ie the flat bit) and the sloped bit, using a curved scraper:



This board was absolutely flat before I removed all the material from the other side. When you hear people say "take an equal amount of material away from each side of a board", this is why :



I then skip over a couple of days of work repeating the middle board shaping, and the cleaning up and rebating of all the other boards. I also don't seem to have any photos of the preparation of the ledges. Ho hum... We're now on to assembly.

With a ledged door, the big danger is the outside of the door dropping in relation to the inside board. One of the ways I combat this is to embed a tight fitting rod into the edges of adjoining boards, so they can't change their vertical relationship with each other:









Leaving a "penny gap" between the boards to allow for movement, or in this case, a 20p gap:



I received a delivery of 300 machine-made traditional nails. These are a good half-way house between a hand forged nail and the modern wire nails, and I line them up with some modern hand forged or cut nails, and a 300 year old nail. They're the two on the right:





So they have a thinner and more uniform shank, but still square. The heads are similar to a hand forged nail, and have some variability. Anyway, time to find a use for them.

Nails in oak need pre-drilling. After marking up and drilling the holes in the ledges, I turned the boards over and elongated the inner holes with a 1/8th chisel. This will aid board expansion and contraction, which nails are great for anyway as they are flexible:



The glue gives a clue as to where I am allowing for movement. The outer sides of the door will remain fixed, as will the centre of the centre board:



That photo shows another peculiarity of ledged and boarded doors made the traditional way. The nails are always nailed in from the boarded side, but to locate the holes properly you have to work from the other side of the door. So the initial nailing at least must be up from the underside of the door! Yep, you kneel on the floor hammering upwards, trying to hold everything down with your other hand:





When all 4 ledges have the outer nails in and clenched over, I flipped the door to work from the other side. This is because I wanted to make sure the middle nails were on the apex of the triangle, the peak in the middle of the centre board:



Clenching isn't 100% straightforward, because if you aren't careful you can start to knock the head of the nail away from the wood on the other side of the board:



It's now a door:



Incidentally, this is why I favour space over kit in my workshop. I want to be able to assemble on horses and still have room to work all round:



This is what the profile looks like:



A quick trim to length:



.....then into the kitchen, where I offered it up to the frame, marked up, and cut all four sides with a handsaw:



Then onto the hastily made door edge supports:



.......for planing:





It fits!! What a piece of luck:



Down again, there's still work to do. Now that I know where the edge is I can fit the Suffolk latch. Because the hinges are going on the ledges, the latch needs to be mounted on a block to bring it up to the same level:







The T hinges were a doddle. The keep, though, has a big spike for bashing into the frame. This can make its final location something of a lottery:





I had to adjust a little on the underside to allow for an uneven flagstone, but finally got the door hung just in time for supper:









That's going to foil the pooch's foray into the lounge at night....but it also shows up the lack of paneling and leaded lights in that oak screen. Oh well, there's another job moving up the list. In the meantime, there are 2 more doors to make.
 

Bm101

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Without blowing petals. Thanks for sharing Mike. Your woodwork is what I aspire to. Oak and useful.
Joining a few mdf sheets the other day, I struggled to maintain a tight grip by hand. Took me a second to realise that a couple of f clamps would do. Unscrewed. Clamped and rescrewed and all was well. Would that help with nailing up from underneath? Probably I'm misunderstanding.
Thanks as always for sharing and taking the time to write up. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
Chris
 

MikeG.

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Thanks Chris.

You can clamp the outside of the outer 2 boards, but there is nothing holding the middle board. If you tried to flip it over at that point it would likely parallelogram, and might even fall to bits. No, I'm absolutely convinced that the old boys doing this 400 years ago whacked the first few nails in upside down from the "wrong" side". It does explain a little why you sometimes see some clumsy hammer marks on the good face of old doors.
 

Bm101

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I have it in my head them fellas were not clumsy. If you had been holding a hammer since 9 years old then no. It's not clumsiness. Fair point.
I'll be quiet lol.
I've read before of hammer marks like this tbf. Done blind and against nature. :D
 

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Nice door Mike. The marks you refer too were called "Half crowns" when I was an apprentice and usually ended with a gentle cuff around the head if you left one.

Mark.
 

AJB Temple

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Nice work Mike. You went to a lot more trouble than I did when I made oak ledged doors throughout the house. I had a batch of 20 to do and the novelty wears off after a while.

Clenches stud nails were vetoed I'm my case by the "in-house influencer" so I had to hide all fixings with oak plugs. I like yours. Might have been inclined to roughen up the shanks a bit in a forge if you have access to one.

I like your shaped centre board a lot. Never seen that pin method used before. I used exactly the same Suffolk latches. First one took ages, but after that they are a doddle.

Do you intend to apply a finish? I have ended up leaving mine as bare wood at present. I quite like it.
 

MikeG.

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Phil Pascoe":2ir0n6fj said:
I always understood that clenched nails were supposed to be bent back and hammered in so the points were buried?
Not only does that not work in hardwoods like oak, it also isn't what you see on old doors. I saw that English woodworker chap on Youtube do this in pine some while ago, but that was the first time I'd ever seen that. If you tried it in oak, as you were driving the pointed end back into the wood from which it had just emerged, at the very same time you would also be driving the main shaft of the nail back out of the hole you'd just hammered it in to. It's one of those nice theories which doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
 

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Chippyjoe":3u8j2eud said:
The marks you refer too were called "Half crowns" when I was an apprentice and usually ended with a gentle cuff around the head if you left one.
I was told this by an old-timer a couple of months back, he said they would deduct a half crown from your wages for every one as a deterrent :lol:
 

MikeG.

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AJB Temple":8owgjccs said:
Nice work Mike. You went to a lot more trouble than I did when I made oak ledged doors throughout the house. I had a batch of 20 to do and the novelty wears off after a while.

Clenches stud nails were vetoed I'm my case by the "in-house influencer" so I had to hide all fixings with oak plugs. I like yours. Might have been inclined to roughen up the shanks a bit in a forge if you have access to one.

I like your shaped centre board a lot. Never seen that pin method used before. I used exactly the same Suffolk latches. First one took ages, but after that they are a doddle.

Do you intend to apply a finish? I have ended up leaving mine as bare wood at present. I quite like it.
Thanks Adrian. Twenty?! Yeah, I'd be bored..... :lol:

They'll get a couple of coats of the excellent water-based lacquer that went on the front door and stairs. It's all but colourless, and doesn't seem to yellow at all. Saves the grubby fingermarks around the latch, and the mop water darkening the bottom edge.

I think that pin method may be my own invention. I haven't seen it anywhere else.

I've done plugged screws to these sorts of doors before, but wondered if routing out a strip long the whole length of the the ledge and making a well matched infill piece might be a neater and quicker answer. Dunno.
 

MikeG.

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Just to complete the set, and because my mum reads this thread to keep up with what I'm doing, I did the lounge and study doors too. Here they are in the workshop:



This is the end of some of the ledges. They're not this shape because of any great design inspiration or period authenticity, but because of a chunk missing from the wood I made them from. So they all have to match:



Except for where the hinges are:



Here's the lounge door first (no doorstops yet):







That colour sample on the wall is the subject of a long standing design team discussion, with deeply entrenched positions. It may stay like that for years.......

Then, the study door:





Spot the schoolboy error. Five notional pence to the first to get it:

 

MikeG.

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Five notional p winging it's way through the ether right now. "Sometimes I stops and thinks.........", with apologies to AA Milne.
 

Phil Pascoe

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MikeG.":2258k1gz said:
... at the very same time you would also be driving the main shaft of the nail back out of the hole you'd just hammered it in to. It's one of those nice theories which doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
I can understand the reluctance to try to do it in oak, but that doesn't follow.
 

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Phil Pascoe":d2igyeyr said:
MikeG.":d2igyeyr said:
... at the very same time you would also be driving the main shaft of the nail back out of the hole you'd just hammered it in to. It's one of those nice theories which doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
I can understand the reluctance to try to do it in oak, but that doesn't follow.
When I made them years ago I used to use two hammers at the same time when bending the nails over, one on the nail head and one to bend the point over, kind of hitting both at the same time if you know what I mean, that was on softwood though.
 

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Nice doors Mike. Is that centre panel a trad thing? I don't think I've seen or noticed that pattern before.

My one and only ledged doors were a pair of oak sidegates a few years back. I got the nail-tips bent over and in, but only by drilling a starter hole for re-entry, and as Doug says, a hammer (I used a lump hammer) on the nail head. I was using silicon bronze roseheads, don't know whether that made it easier.
 

MikeG.

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Jake":1hstgthq said:
Nice doors Mike. Is that centre panel a trad thing?.........
You do see it now and then. It depends on whether the hinges are on the ledges or on the boards, and whether there are three ledges or four. If the hinges are on the ledges then the latch needs to be brought out flush with them or the door post will need a great big chunk taken out of it (I've seen that too). If the hinges are on the boards the latch can either be on the centre ledge if there are only 3 ledges, or on an extra piece like on mine.
 

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Hi Mike,

On a side track. My research on old doors with strap hinges / T hinges, was that very often the hinge was two thirds the width of the door. I followed that pattern. I assumed (I know the phrase about to assume makes an ass out of me and u) that this was to prevent droop. This is pre viagra obviously.

It is also interesting that you have used quite narrow ledges? Why was that, as you clearly had wide boards available. The old doors I copied typically had three ledges, much wider. The logic again being presumably that it is more stable.

KR, Adrian
 

MikeG.

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In my last house I used wide ledges, but going around old houses around here, and pubs too, I saw that most of the ledges were scrappy little things comparatively. In East Anglia these doors are sometimes called board and batten doors, and that's pretty accurate. I can picture a couple of doors now where the ledges were roughly 2" wide. And rough as old boots, like they were hacked out of a hedge and cleaned up with a draw knife. Again, around here there was almost always 4 ledges (and never a brace, heaven forfend). I wouldn't be at all surprised to find wide regional variation, but also variation depending on the status of the building. A peasant's hut would be unlikely to feature bead-and-butt joints, for instance, but you see them all the time in farmhouses and manor houses.

You're right about the role of the hinges. Pin hinges well over half the width of the door were really what was doing the work of holding the door together. The ledges could be thought of as just holding the outer board, and of holding the door together before it was hung. They also had a decorative role, and a wealth-display role. For the latter, you only need to see a few old church doors to see what I mean.
 
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